Staff

Head Office

CEO, Admin and Finance

Chris Head
CEO

Hello, I am Chris Head and I was delighted to take on the job of chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation at the end of 2007, having previously done similar roles at two other national health-care charities, Penny Brohn CancerCare and CLIC UK (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood).

I think the great thing about the Foundation is that, as well as funding the vital medical research which will finally lead to cures for meningitis and septicaemia, we also support people affected. We offer an opportunity, through our Membership scheme, for everyone to become directly involved in our work, particularly through media campaigns and fundraising, and I am constantly grateful for the energy and commitment of our thousands of supporters.

As a member of the Institute of Fundraising, a former board member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, I believe strongly in championing professional standards in the charity sector. I am very fortunate that the dedication and expertise of my colleagues here is making a real difference people affected by and at risk from meningitis and septicaemia, both in the UK and abroad. 

Away from work I am an enthusiastic amateur musician and enjoy life with my family in Bath.

Paul George
Office Manager and PA to CEO

I have been with MRF since 1995, initially working 3 hours a day while managing a young family. Since then I have slowly become full time and moved over from fundraising to the position of office manager.

I am a keen supporter Charlton Athletic.

Kelly Latham
Finance Manager

Hi I'm Kelly  and I've been working for MRF since May 2004 as the Finance Manager.

My main role is to process all the income and expenditure for the whole charity including satellite offices and preparing monthly management accounts, but colleagues would agree an important part of my job is paying their wages!

I enjoy working for the charity and hopefully one day I will be able to keep on top of my filing!


Sue Gillett
Cashier

My name is Sue Gillett and I've been working for the charity since November 1994 - how time flies!

I'm the cashier and I deal with all the financial paperwork that comes into the charity, such as invoices, expenses forms, purchase orders and, more seriously, the banking.

I also spend time trying to collect tea and coffee funds from the staff, this is sometimes the hardest part of my job.

Communications and Campaigns

This team uses every available form of communication to promote the charity and its work - financing vital research, raising awareness, supporting those affected by meningitis and septicaemia, and fundraising.

We deliver assorted high-profile campaigns, such as Meningitis Awareness Week, and are especially thankful to our members who allow us to use their case histories to publicise our vision for a world free of meningitis and septicaemia.

Jane Futrell
Head of Communications and Campaigns


My name is Jane Futrell and I head up of the Communications and Campaign team. I joined the charity because I enjoy working with people who are making a difference and thrive on delivering projects which will bring tangible benefits for a wide range of people.
I oversee everything from press campaigns and parliamentary lobbying to the online site and leaflets for members of the public and health professionals.

I was a newspaper reporter in the north and south of England before joining the BBC in 1985 as a publicist in Manchester and then London. I left the BBC in 2011 after nearly 10 years as first Head of International Marketing Communications for BBC World Service and then Head of Brand Identity for BBC Global News.

Adrian Robson
Communications Manager

Hi. I'm Adrian Robson. I work in the Communications Department at the Foundation and have done since 1999.

I look after lots of e-communications, like this website and the social media, so if someone's tweeting or messaging on Facebook, it's usually me.

I also work to increase media coverage of meningitis and septicaemia and the work of MRF.

Having a true understanding of the devastating effects of the diseases, through our Members, continues to be my main motivation.

Read our Members' stories on site in the Book of Experience

Becky Pierce-Jones
PR Manager

Hi, I’m Becky Pierce-Jones and I’m the PR Manager for MRF. I joined the Comms Team in 2011 and my role is to promote the charity, its aims and the work of our researchers, members and fantastic fundraisers across the UK and Ireland in local, regional and national media.

I also co-ordinate Meningitis Awareness Week in September, which is a huge team effort, and could not succeed without our members talking about their experiences to their local newspaper, radio station or TV.

Personal experiences of the disease is what I need to keep Meningitis Research Foundation and the work we do in the media and the forefront of people’s minds, so if you are willing to tell your story please do get in touch.

Amy Luker
Communications Officer

Hi, I’m Amy Luker and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) in October 2012 as a Communications Officer. My role is to look after the various publications we produce and to support the Communications Team with PR, events and e-communications.

I am so pleased to be working for MRF and it is very rewarding to know that the work I do supports the many people who have been affected by meningitis and septicaemia.

I'm on maternity leave at the moment.



Membership & Support

Shirley Gieron
Head of Helpline and Membership


Hi, I'm Shirley and I lead a team of dedicated staff and nurses working within the Helpline and Membership Department.

My work with Members and individuals who have personal experience of meningitis and septicaemia includes home visits, the Telephone Befriending Network, giving talks to health professionals and community groups, running Members' Days and linking with other agencies and charities dealing with neurological and physical disabilities.

I feel privileged to support people affected by these diseases through times of extreme crisis, sharing their experiences and working with them through life changing trauma.

Henry Barnes
Membership and Support Officer

Hi, I'm Henry and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation in 2013.

My role here is immensely varied; from speaking to people on the helpline and providing information and support to people in need, to giving awareness raising talks to community groups or supporting volunteers to raise awareness within their communities - I do a little bit of everything!

I also manage our Community Ambassador programme which aims to broaden our regional representation through a network of committed volunteers. I love my job, especially when I'm out and about, meeting our amazing members.

 I can honestly say that my job has introduced me to some of the bravest, kindest and most inspirational people that I've ever met.

Alison Pack
Membership and Support Officer

Hi, I’m Alison and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation in September 2012. I take helpline calls and answer emails from people with all sorts of queries about meningitis and septicaemia, including symptoms and after effects, and offer them support if they or their loved ones are affected. I work with our fantastic befrienders who share their experiences with others through our Telephone Befriending Service.

I raise awareness of the disease by sharing information with individuals, schools, nurseries, colleges, communities and health professionals. I can see the Foundation’s work is making a real difference.

I’m also involved in organising our membership events, including Members’ Days and the Bristol Meningitis Symposium. It’s always enjoyable to meet our inspirational members!

Gemma Windle
Membership Fundraising Assistant

I joined Meningitis Research Foundation fresh out of University, having been deeply involved with student charity fundraising society RAG (alongside a degree in Psychology and Zoology- I often forget to mention that bit!). Having spent 6 months working with our student fundraisers on their fundraising for the Kilimanjaro climb, I am now working in the Membership and Support office. I assist our members and supporters with fundraising activities they have organised themselves. This can be anything and everything including cake sales, tough mudder runs, live music events and fundraising in schools.

I enjoy the challenge of such variety, and love to see people achieving so much through their fundraising, although it is often in the wake of terrible experiences of this awful disease.

Whether you have a great idea for a fundraiser or don’t know where to start, I’d love to hear from you and support you with your fundraising. gemmw@meningitis.org.

 

Research and Medical Information

Linda Glennie Linda Glennie
Head of Research and Medical Information


I'm Linda Glennie and I'm Head of Research and Medical Information at MRF where I've worked since 1997.

I work with scientists and health professionals across a range of disciplines to develop information materials for the public and for health professionals, and I've co-authored several educational resources for nurses and trainee doctors. I also organise  the scientific programme for the Foundation’s biennial international conferences.

I'm responsible for managing the administration, peer review and monitoring of the Foundation’s international research programme. In collaboration with the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol I manage the Impact of Meningitis project.

I was a member of the Guideline Development Group for the NICE guideline on Bacterial Meningitis and Meningococcal Septicaemia, published June 2010.

I have a background in biological sciences.

Claire Wright Claire Wright
Medical Information Officer


My name is Claire and my role as Medical Information Officer involves working on the educational materials that MRF distributes to health professionals and the public, making sure that it is up to date with findings from current research. 

I also try to answer specific medical questions we receive about meningitis and septicaemia and promote the charity's work at conferences around the country. 

It’s very rewarding to work on awareness literature which may go on to help save lives and support those who have been affected by this disease.

Rachel Perrin Gill Currie
Research Officer


Hi, my name is Gill and my role puts me in contact with all the research projects that the charity is funding. I have a degree in Medical Microbiology and chose a project on meningitis for my final year dissertation.

Along with the administration and monitoring of grants, I also help to promote research and translate scientific information from the projects into more manageable information for this website, social media and press releases.

Another important way to link people to our research is through our Discovery Days, which I help manage. Our biannual scientific conference in London and smaller annual symposiums in Bristol are also big dates in my calendar, where I liase with our scientific presenters and researchers and help promote networking amongst attendees.

Having the opportunity to follow the latest research into meningitis and septicaemia is a real privilege, and seeing the impact this has on families is really inspiring.



Rachel Perrin Rachel Perrin
International Development Officer


Hi, I’m Rachel. I oversee our Action Meningitis project in Malawi, which is committed to reducing the number of child deaths and disability from meningitis.

In Malawi health clinics are chaotic and overcrowded. Very sick children wait hours; some die before the doctor has time to see them. Action Meningitis improves chances of survival by helping health workers quickly and accurately identify severe illnesses, like meningitis. Using a specially created mobile phone app, health workers assess a child’s symptoms on arrival, and emergency cases are fast-tracked to hospital.

This work in the clinics is dove-tailed with radio and theatre campaigns to help raise awareness of meningitis within the community.

Working alongside Thomasena, our Blantyre-based project manager, my role is to help plan, implement and fundraise for the project.

 

Thomasena O'ByrneThomasena O'Byrne
Project Manager for the Action Meningitis project in Malawi


Hi I’m Thomasena. I’m Project Manager for the Action Meningitis project in Malawi and I’m based in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city.

Managing the day to day operations of the project keeps me busy! Co-ordinating the delivery of the project involves working closely with the healthcare workers, clinic in-charges and Malawi Ministry of Health to ensure that the triage system is running smoothly in the clinics. I also manage our Fieldworkers, who gather data so that we can monitor the system is working well. I also help troubleshoot any issues that arise, in collaboration with our technology partners, D-tree International.

I also co ordinate our health awareness programme for local communities. Through radio and theatre we deliver messages about meningitis, to encourage early recognition of the disease and prompt action.
Each day brings with it new challenges but it has been incredibly rewarding watching both the healthcare workers and patients benefiting from our intervention which ensures that those children that are very sick are prioritized to be seen by a clinician before non urgent cases. This was not the case when we started working on this project and can literally mean the difference between life and death.

I am very excited about developing our work later in the year with the wonderful local communities here in Blantyre district through the Theatre for Development component of Action Meningitis. This will really help to further our understanding of the misconceptions of meningitis in Malawi and to work with the local communities at grass root level to raise awareness of the symptoms and the importance of seeking health care as early as possible.

Action Meningitis

Thomasena O'ByrneThomasena O'Byrne
Project Manager for the Action Meningitis project in Malawi


Hi I’m Thomasena. I’m Project Manager for the Action Meningitis project in Malawi and I’m based in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city.

Managing the day to day operations of the project keeps me busy! Co-ordinating the delivery of the project involves working closely with the healthcare workers, clinic in-charges and Malawi Ministry of Health to ensure that the triage system is running smoothly in the clinics. I also manage our Fieldworkers, who gather data so that we can monitor the system is working well. I also help troubleshoot any issues that arise, in collaboration with our technology partners, D-tree International.

I also co ordinate our health awareness programme for local communities. Through radio and theatre we deliver messages about meningitis, to encourage early recognition of the disease and prompt action.

Each day brings with it new challenges but it has been incredibly rewarding watching both the healthcare workers and patients benefiting from our intervention which ensures that those children that are very sick are prioritized to be seen by a clinician before non urgent cases. This was not the case when we started working on this project and can literally mean the difference between life and death.

I am very excited about developing our work later in the year with the wonderful local communities here in Blantyre district through the Theatre for Development component of Action Meningitis. This will really help to further our understanding of the misconceptions of meningitis in Malawi and to work with the local communities at grass root level to raise awareness of the symptoms and the importance of seeking health care as early as possible.


Rachel Perrin Rachel Perrin
International Development Officer


Hi, I’m Rachel. I oversee our Action Meningitis project in Malawi, which is committed to reducing the number of child deaths and disability from meningitis.

In Malawi health clinics are chaotic and overcrowded. Very sick children wait hours; some die before the doctor has time to see them. Action Meningitis improves chances of survival by helping health workers quickly and accurately identify severe illnesses, like meningitis. Using a specially created mobile phone app, health workers assess a child’s symptoms on arrival, and emergency cases are fast-tracked to hospital.

This work in the clinics is dove-tailed with radio and theatre campaigns to help raise awareness of meningitis within the community.

Working alongside Thomasena, our Blantyre-based project manager, my role is to help plan, implement and fundraise for the project.


Bernadetta Payesa Bernadetta Payesa
Action Meningitis Field Supervisor


Bernadetta Payesa, aged 25, lives in Chileka, Blantyre and is our Action Meningitis field supervisor.

"I joined the team in October 2012 and my role is field supervisor to go out to the health facilities to make sure triage is being done and that the phones are working correctly. I have to feedback to our project manager Thomasena and D-tree (phone provider) if the phones have any problems."

More about Bernadetta and her work


Willard Chilunga Willard Chilunga
Action Meningitis Field Worker
Willard Chilunga (25) comes from the Bangwe township where one our clinics is situated.

In October 2012 I joined Action Meningitis as a a field worker at Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), which includes doing follow ups on patients that have been referred from the five Health facilities that we are working with: Bangwe, Ndirande, Chilomoni, Mpemba and Zingwangwa health facility.

More about Willard and his work


Meliya Kwelepeta Meliya Kwelepeta
Action Meningitis Field Worker
Meliya Kwelepeta is 23 years years old and live in Ndirande, Malawi.

She has a certificate in HIV and AIDS Management Diploma and is currently doing an advance Diploma.

She joined Action Meningitis as a Field Worker at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre tracking referrals from primary health centres in September 2013.

More about Meliya and her work


Zione Kalyosi Zione Kalyosi
Action Meningitis Field Worker
My name is Zione Kalyosi and I am 27 years old and live in Chikhwawa, Malawi.

I have a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and am currently studying towards a certificate in Rural Development Studies.

I joined Action Meningitis in October 2013 and my role is a field worker in the district hospital and rural clinics in Chikhwawa where we have implemented the mobile phone triage system in the clinics with the health care assistants. This helps them identify very sick children who come to the clinic and ensure they get seen as quickly as possible by a doctor and then refered to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH).

More about Zione and her work

Fundraising and Development

Mike Taylor
Head of Fundraising

I’ve been running my own management training consultancy since 1995, and am excited to have joined MRF in February 2012.

I’m also Chair of Trustees for local arts organisation Circomedia, a custody visitor at our local inner city police station, and mentor for an organisation that supports new social entrepreneurs.

I host a website for local runners, I’m a keen cyclist (I love my 11 mile commute!), and I’ve led charity challenge expeditions in S America, Africa, China, Borneo, and Nepal.

If you wish to share any thoughts, ideas or feedback that can help us here at MRF, please feel free to contact me.

LinkedIn

Ian Beningfield
Deputy Head of Fundraising

Social and new media fan, part time geek and prolific coffee drinker. I've been with the charity since 2004, in the past I was involved with many of the charity's community events including most recently the running programme.

These days I spend a lot of my time finding new ways to use technology and the web to boost our fundraising, stay in contact with our Members and supporters and baffle my colleagues with jargon.

Susie Bailey Susie Bailey
Fundraising Officer

If the words crazy, challenge, adventure or endurance sound appealing to you then I’m your first point of call at the Foundation. I look after all of our fantastic charity challenges so if you like the idea of Cycling to Paris, Trekking the Inca Trail or Summiting Kilimanjaro then get in touch. I love an adventure and have been managing our student Kilimanjaro Challenge since 2011, it’s a fantastic event and I’m proud to say that I’m one of our many Kilimanjaro conquerors having taken on the challenge myself!

I also look after all our amazing Marathon runners in London, Brighton Paris and Berlin! It’s always fantastic meeting our supporters at events and so inspiring hearing their stories.

I look forward to meeting lots of you!

Get in touch at susieb@meningitis.org


Tom DeFraine
Events Fundraising Assistant


Hi I’m Tom and I’ve recently joined the Fundraising team at Meningitis Research Foundation!

I’ll be working mainly with Universities and RAGs on raids and megaraids as well as organising London Loot in April. I’m also in charge of our Big Fun Runs across the country.

If you fancy a challenge or want to shake a bucket for us then get in touch – we always have plenty of permits up and down the country.


Esther Trackman
Community Fundraising Assistant


Hi, I’m Esther

I’m looking after parachuting and some of our key running events – Bath Half Marathon, Silverstone Half Marathon, Reading Half Marathon, Great Manchester 10k, Run to the Beat, Great North Run and Great South Run.

My aim is to make sure anyone taking part in an event for us has the best possible experience and achieves everything they set out to do. It’s wonderful to see people reach and surpass their goals, especially as so many of the people I work with are taking part because they have a personal connection with the cause. Meeting supporters at the events is my favourite part of the job, so if you sign up for one of the runs I’m looking after I may well see you soon!

esthert@meningitis.org


Tianna Cowan Tianna Cowan
Corporate Fundraising Assistant


Hi I’m Tianna.

I’ve recently joined the charity, and am very excited to be working for such a fantastic organisation, which has interests both here in the UK and internationally.

As the charities Corporate Fundraising Assistant, I aim to support fundraising efforts by securing donations from companies across England & Wales.

I enjoy building relationships with people so am truly relishing the opportunity to develop relations with corporate supporters, and inspire organisations to join our fight to rid the world of meningitis.

Get in touch today to involve your company in our campaign

tiannac@meningitis.org

Felicity Robbins Felicity Robbins
Fundraising Adminstration Officer


Hi, I’m Felicity aka, Flick.

I’ve been with the team since Spring 2013 and my role is to keep the fundraising team on their toes by supporting all aspects of fundraising, finance and admin.

I will on occasions join the fundraising team when they go out and about to meet all our members and supporters at events, so if you see me make sure you say hi.

If you need a collection tin, bucket, merchandise, or just have a fundraising enquiry then pop me an email felicityr@meningitis.org

Satellite Offices

We have offices in:

Scotland



Mary Millar
Scotland Office Manager


I'm Mary Millar and I'm the Scotland Manager. I joined MRF in July 2009.

My background is in marketing and advertising within the private sector, skills which I have found useful in promoting the Foundation further in Scotland, and driving forward increased awareness, support and fundraising campaigns.

I really enjoy being involved with all our Scottish Members and Supporters, and helping to make a difference to our important cause.

Alison Baker
Fundraising Officer


Hi, I'm Alison and I work in the Edinburgh office of the Foundation.

I've been working in a fundrasing role since 2006 and I thoroughly enjoy the large variety of fundraising that our office deals with.

I'm happy to help with all things fundraising in Scotland.


Ashleigh Hunt
Office/Fundraising Administrator


Hi, I’m Ashleigh and I started work with the Foundation in 2012. I have spent the last four years at university fundraising for different charities across Scotland and the UK.

I can’t wait to get more involved with all the MRF events and I am really enjoying meeting all the volunteers and supporters. I am always happy to receive any questions, enquiries or information so do not hesitate to get in touch.


Dawn Carrie
Office/Fundraising Administrator


Hi , I'm Dawn and I started at the Foundation in August 2009 and as an Office and Fundraising Assistant in the Edinburgh Office.

As well ensuring the smooth running of the office, my role includes organising street, supermarket and can collections in Scotland as well as helping with fundraising events. I rely on the help of all our wonderful volunteers, members and supporters, who I thoroughly enjoy meeting.




Northern Ireland

Diane McConnell
Ireland Manager

I have been with the charity since 5 April 1995 and am the Ireland manager - which incorporates two offices, Belfast and Dublin.

I love my job and get great satisfaction from working with members and supporters of the charity who are as committed to the cause as I am.

I have four grown up children and three grandchildren. I like family Sundays and walk, read and garden when I get the time.

Emma McNeill
Fundraising Officer


Hi, I’m Emma and I’ve been with the Foundation since March 2007.

I am responsible for generating income through our varied calendar of events. My role involves liaising with members and supporters on a daily basis, coming up with new fundraising ideas and coordinating events.

I myself have taken part in abseils, ziplines and freefalls in order to raise funds and encourage others for their support. I am still amazed by people’s fundraising efforts and the lengths they go, to achieve their goals.

It’s a real privilege to work with families who have been affected by this truly devastating disease and it’s a constant reminder of how vital my work is.


Keli Wilkinson
Fundraising Officer


I work as a Fundraising Officer in our Belfast Office and have been with the Foundation since October 2007.

The role is extremely varied and there is never a dull moment which is great! I work closely with Emma Collins, the other fundraiser in the office, although I am responsible for parachute jumps, overseas challenges, corporate fundraising, marathons and that's just for starters!

I really enjoy talking to members and supporters and meeting them at events as I think that makes all the difference. I really enjoy being able to help people with their fundraising ideas and find the role very rewarding.

We are a small team in Belfast but we all work very well together which makes it a great place to work!

Ireland

Diane McConnell
Ireland Manager

I have been with the charity since 5 April 1995 and am the Ireland manager - which incorporates two offices, Belfast and Dublin.

I love my job and get great satisfaction from working with members and supporters of the charity who are as committed to the cause as I am.

I have four grown up children and three grandchildren. I like family Sundays and walk, read and garden when I get the time.


Monika Marchlewicz
Fundraising Officer in Ireland


Hi, I’m Monika and I work as the Fundraising Officer for Dublin office and have been here since May 2006.

I'm responsible for generating the income and coordinating every aspect of the fundraising activity.

My motto has always been 'Don't just do it - do it with passion and pride!' The true meaning of this was never more apparent than when I started working for the Foundation. It is a privilege to work alongside so many amazing, skilled and passionate people who really do make a difference! I am proud to represent MRF.

My proudest accomplishment is beautiful and smart son. Away from the office, I enjoy outdoor activities, including gardening, and home improvement projects.

Caroline O'Connor
Medical Information Officer


I work as the Medical Information Officer for Ireland and have been with the Charity since December 2012.

I enjoy my job as every day is varied and I get to meet and work with a lot of different and inspirational people. I get great satisfaction from promoting meningitis awareness in Ireland and working towards the shared goals of the Foundation.


Wioletta Tometczak
Administrative Officer


I have worked as the Administration Officer in Dublin since November 2007.

I relocated from Poland in 2004, but I rarely feel homesick in Dublin as it is a great place to live in.

MRF is a great environment to work in. Not only am I responsible for running the office smoothly, but I also organise various collections and support fundraising as well as awareness activities in Dublin office.

In my spare time I love reading books, watching movies and travelling.
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